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Harrison Ford and Milk Mustaches: Brands and Bloggers Get Creative at Conferences

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BloggingSocial media conferences are all the rage these days, especially in the mom blogging space. As companies try to differentiate one blogging conference from the next and identify, based on the unique offerings of each, what makes the most sense for their brand and what will yield the greatest return on investment, they are finding themselves in a creative competition with other brands.

For those who have earmarked large budgets to conference sponsorships, the creative solutions are big and bold... not to mention fun!

Twizzler's built US landmarks out of licorice and strategically placed them through BlogHer this past month (shown on the right with Melissa from TimeOutMom, Jen from HowTo-Simplify, and Troy from Dadventurous). Elmo accompanied Sesame Street to evo last month. Dr. Pepper/Snapple partnered with KaBoom! to build a playground in a New Orleans neighborhood as part of Mom 2.0 in April. I rode a solar powered merry-go-round sponsored by GE at South by Southwest in March. And to kick off my 2011 conference going, ConAgra sent Blissdom attendees packages to their home both before and after the conference. Can anyone say Orville Redenbacher's popcorn? Mmmmm!

For many brands, just getting on the expo floor at a conference can cost a pretty penny, especially if they are operating on a limited budget. So, adding in the out of pocket cost to beat the competition can be tough. But, when a brand has a good idea and when a blogger adds her own creativity to the mix, it can mean all the difference in helping a sponsorship go from good to great (in terms of awareness) and sometimes, for less upfront investment. And such was the case with MILK at BlogHer in San Diego.

I already love milk and met the Milk team at Mom 2.0 this past April. So, when they approached me and asked to sponsor me to BlogHer, the decision was a no brainer. But then I found out that the campaign they were promoting was called Thanks a Latte, which is a super cute name and a really fun campaign (check it out on Milk Mustache Campaign's Facebook page). However, I am not a coffee or a latte drinker. I take my milk plain, thank you very much. They said that was OK and that drinking milk at the conference was not a requirement (I did it anyway!).

Check out this fun video @TroyPattee and I took at their booth. We'll win a trip to New York City if you vote for us (It's my favorite city! No pressure!).

I had a lot of fun passing out Starbucks gift cards to people at the conference. Simple. Nice. Made people feel good. Then I saw Heidi from Coast2CoastMom.com at a brunch. She was also sponsored by MILK. We were talking about our post-conference road trip plans when she told me of her idea.

You see, Heidi had road tripped to BlogHer from New York to San Diego with her family. While at BlogHer, she met Flat Harrison in the #gotmilk booth—a life-sized cut out of Harrison Ford with a milk mustache. Troy and I met him too and had a lovely interaction as you can see below.

 

But Heidi had a better idea. Why leave Harrison in San Diego? Wouldn't he get lonely? And why leave him there when he could join her family's road trip to New York?

So, in the most awesome Flat Stanley way, she packed him up and took him with her and her family cross country, visiting corn fields and landmarks along the way. You can see all the fun pictures on her blog. The one with him in wine country with her little boy holding up a carton of milk makes me laugh every time.

So, what is the "it" that makes a brand stand out? What gets your attention? Is it the larger-than-life exhibits, the creative campaigns, the delicious food, the fun events, nice agency and brand representatives, the swag? Probably a little of all or something in particular for each brand. For #gotmilk, it was a mixture of being in the right place, having the right props, and having the right blogger on their team. I've heard people talking about it all month.

What have been some of your favorite conference sponsors and why?

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An active part of the Mom It Forward team, Jyl primarily writes about parenting, social good, and all things travel related. In a past life, Jyl was an award-winning copywriter and designer of corporate training programs for Fortune 100 companies. Offline, Jyl is married to @TroyPattee; a mom to two teen boys and a beagle named #Hashtag; loves large amounts of cheese, dancing, and traveling; and lives in the beautiful Rocky Mountains. Topping her bucket list is the goal to visit 50 countries by the time she's 50.

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